Séamus Ahearne: “You have to distinguish between things that seemed odd when they were new but now are quite familiar, such as Ibsen and Wagner and things that seemed crazy when they were new and seem crazy now, like ‘Finnegans Wake’ and Picasso.” Philip Larkin

Great Sport (in recent times):

Young Eilish McColgan did well in Birmingham (Commonwealth Games). Gold in 10,000m and Silver in 5000m My mind drifted back to her mother Liz (like daughter like mother) from Lochee  (also called Little Tipperary) in Dundee all those years ago. (I spent nine years in Dundee). Michaela and Aidan Walsh got gold. They spoke affectionately in sheer admiration of each other. David Weir got a puncture as he led the marathon in his wheelchair. David is very rich in gold already. Adam Peaty stormed back to win the 50m after failing in his specialism – the 100m breaststroke. George Millar won gold. He is only 75. There is hope for the rest of us if a young lad like that, could win. Delicious Orie (super-heavyweight) won gold too. What a name!! As a fellow called Paddy, in our Novitiate (in 1964) used to say about Mao Tse Tung – ‘more an affliction than a name, son.’ But Delicious – with a Russian mother and a Nigerian father……. That is rather a load to carry. Wasn’t Ciara Mageean magnificent as she tracked Laura Muir in the Europeans and got silver? Mark English did well too. And then there was the Aga Khan Cup. Not a bad feast in recent weeks.

America as a beacon of the principles of democracy:

Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed by a drone in Kabul. Joe Biden was very clear that America would always track down and eliminate anyone who is a threat to the American people. He also said that America was ‘a beacon for the rest of the world’ with their principles of democracy. That comment is hardly obvious. That an habitual liar could still be considered as a likely candidate for the office of president; that a man who refuses to accept the votes of the people and atmospherically created warlike insurrection at the Capitol on January 6th; that the Republican  party can still support such a man, bodes badly for the principles of democracy. Many of us might disagree fundamentally with Liz Cheney on lots of issues – but she makes so much sense on Trump. And then there is the carry-on of Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss. They don’t impress as they fight to take over the PM’s job at No 10 Downing Street. They follow Boris and seem to forget why he was ousted. Michael Gove and Matthew Parris are rather critical of Liz. And that non-functioning Assembly in N Ireland remains in abeyance while the electors are ignored. It is a fragile flower – democracy. I am never happy to hear people describe politicians as all corrupt and as only in it for themselves. Some of my fellow walkers (Tolka)  are never enamoured by politicians anywhere. But some few politicians do let down the system. Not everyone. It is a very rough business – politics. We commemorate the centenary of the death of Michael Collins. It is profoundly sad that after those centuries of colonialism in our country, we should as a people, turn on each other in a Civil War. But it was so important that Micheál Martin and Leo Varadkar should speak at Béal na Bláth at the weekend (21st August). And it is about time.

Snail’s pace:

Anna was stooping down. She wasn’t kissing the ground or doing a Pope John Paul on it even if she is Polish. Her devotion wasn’t to the ground but rather to the snails. She removed the snails from the pathway because otherwise the walkers would crush them. There is respect for nature and the environment. I wouldn’t even have thought of such care. As I watch the green shoots of grass cover the burned-out patch at Tolka Valley Park – I am amazed at the recovery. The green shoots cliché does apply in life too! I see this morning, more fire had consumed the dry grass yesterday. At least I have hope that this patch will heal too. I also saw a burned out shopping trolley of rubbish on another part of the park. Why do people do such things? The herons guard the river for me and let me know what is happening. The kingfisher remains elusive. The buzzards have appeared. The water-hens are very friendly. We are very blessed with such a park, river, birds, trees and air in this community. Most people really appreciate it. I see my own street (Cardiffsbridge Road) was in the News a few weeks back. Apparently, Flashy was waving the saddle of a bike at some local youngsters. I saw nothing and didn’t even hear anything. However, the mention of Flashy does evoke some bad memories of life in our community.

Funerals (1)

Death was very prominent in the community recently. We buried Betty on Saturday. She was a stalwart of faith. She has been very sick over the past few years. She loved her ‘Magnificat.’ Her face used to break into a huge smile when she received Communion. She was an avid supporter and participant at the Facebook Masses. She was a lady and a saint. She was an inspiration. We miss her.

Funerals (2)

That evening we remembered Maria. She was only 35. Her husband Dean and three children are heartbroken. We had the month’s mind. She used to work at the local Pharmacy. She was loved by everyone. She helped everyone. She even offered her husband to help anyone and everyone. She got Dean to take her in the wheelchair to the Zoo on Fathers’ Day. She spent 5 hours there. And she died shortly after that.

Funerals (3)

We also remembered the first anniversary of Darren. He died suddenly. His heart gave out. He was only 50. His wife Noreen finds it hard. She is used to death as a nurse but can’t come to terms with the death of Darren. They have a huge troupe of friends. They are a most impressive group of supporters. The church was packed. In fact many had to stay outside. But again the memories were special. Their singing continues. Their support for Liverpool is a collective. Their get together will be sore without Darren.

Funerals (4)

On Monday we buried Rose. Dementia had deprived the family of the smile and heart of this lovely woman in recent years. The husband, James, of 57 years, simply cried the days away. It is a very big family. Church would not be a familiar place. I suggested to the music people that this might be somewhat chaotic and noisy. Responses were loud in their absence. Their response was deep within. But I was wrong in my predication. There was total reverence, respect and dignity. And everyone did their job carefully and profoundly.

Funerals (5)

And then yesterday we had Ann’s funeral. She had worked in Temple Street. Her family were very special. They spoke so warmly and highly of this lady. It was beautiful. As the son John said – ‘briseann an dúchas….’  Her parents Annie and Johnny had taught them well. Love was everywhere. She was a giver. She was the heart of the extended family. It was such a privilege. We captured something of the woman at the funeral. Isn’t that what it is about? All these people were so different. But what we do and how we do it matters deeply. There is no fixed routine. Everything has to be adjusted and flexible. The God of the moment does grace the occasion. We have to be very humble. We cannot ever just throw our comfortable ritual at people. This is the depth of life and humanity. We are guests in their lives. We are students of the occasion. We are completely at the service of a life/love story.  This is Holy Ground. Our shoes must come off. The convenient language of Church is blasphemous if we hide in the formalities.


She has got perplexed. It is Covid that has done it. She was less inclined to talk to me on the phone – in case she picked it up from me. She was intrigued by the sound of my voice. She wanted to know why I sounded different. She hardly knew me – she said. And then life took a serious turn.

Why do people get sick? She echoed all the thoughts in Brendan Kennelly’s poem of the three-year-old. Flowers die and why? People die and why? Will she die? Will I die? That serious turn changed again.  

It was the sun that took over. She loves the sun. And the brightness. The odd shadow appears and she wants to catch it. She can’t understand why the shadows and the clouds won’t play with her. She looks at the Comeraghs and the Knockmealdowns and asks why do they come closer sometimes and other times seem to hide away. And why? She says. She has too many questions for me.

Seamus Ahearne osa             22nd August 2022.

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